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Traffic Takes Off At Love Field, But End Of Wright Amendment Only Part Of It

BJ Austin
Dallas Love Field was updated to handle the increased traffic prompted in part by the Wright Amendment's repeal.

Air traffic took off in November at Dallas Love Field thanks in part to the end of the Wright Amendment in October. But there’s more to it.

Airline passenger traffic rose almost 40 percent at Love Field in November compared to a year earlier. One big difference was the repeal of the restrictive Wright Amendment that ended Oct. 13. But that wasn’t the only difference. Love Field added carrier Virgin America to the competitive mix, while its dominant airline, Southwest, added more and larger planes with more destinations. Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins says all those elements worked together.

“Up 37 percent for one of the top-five metro areas in the United States is really an unheard of kind of jump,” Hawkins said. “Obviously, that does not occur in a vacuum.”

Comparing passenger traffic at Love Field in years prior to 2014 saw only minor differences November to November -- maybe a percentage point or two. It was nothing like the boost of two months ago.

Tom Parsons with Bestfares.comsays there was yet another reason for Love Field’s traffic jump in November -- aside from the Wright Amendment’s demise.  

“We did increase the traffic, and we did increase flights,” Parsons said. "But the other reason I think people are flocking is because of the low, low airfares we’ve been seeing.  Some of the airfares from Southwest and American Airlines at DFW International Airport have been some of the cheapest we’ve seen in years.”

Parsons sees many of those low fares continuing on some carriers out of a busier Love Field. What passenger Tom Arnold told KERA in October seems to be holding true.

“It’s going to open up Dallas Love for tremendous opportunity for growth for this whole area. It’s going to be great,” Arnold said.

It’s unclear how much more traffic Love Field can handle because it remains limited to 20 gates. That was agreed to under the Wright Amendment repeal. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.